The ‘Dean of NFL Beat Writers’ Has Some Advice for Young Sports Journalists

Bob McGinn kicks off a potent new The MMQB feature

“The Exit Interview” promises to focus on people who have left the game of football. And to start things off, The MMQB’s Peter King could not have picked a more timely and informed candidate than Bob McGinn, who retired from the Packers beat in May.

For 38 years, the sportswriter covered the Green Bay franchise for several different Wisconsin newspapers. McGinn, 65, starts off by comically noting that as he aged away from his full-time 1984 debut, it became harder and harder for people to yell at him. He is weary of official NFL team websites, calling them a “pox” on the journalism business, and later, asks King if he can bring up a few things:

“Okay. Modesty. I think that’s crucial. I think too many young reporters think they are the show, think they are the game. It drives me nuts. We have to know who we are. We are journalists. We’re reporters. Every scout and assistant coach, to me, knows 100 times more football than I do. The scouts in Green Bay can go down the hall and there is [defensive coordinator] Dom Capers sitting in his office with his tape on. They can sit there for 15 minutes. Dom, let’s talk about this coverage. I would love to have had a chance like that. I never did.”

“So when you interview these people, don’t act like you know a lot. Be modest. Temper it down. Listen, listen, to what they’re telling you.”

McGinn adds more supremely sound advice for his successors about podcasts, the foolishness of trying to become personal friends with players and the value of maintaining a serious view of the reporting profession. He is relocating to Ann Arbor and isn’t quite sure yet what he will do, although he insists he will continue to write. He says he can also envision himself teaching at his Alma Mater the University of Michigan.